I have been a big fan of a certain pop happy duo since the mid-1980’s. Erasure consists of the straight songwriter/ keyboardist Vince Clark & openly Gay singer Andy Bell. One of Erasure’s fanatic fan bases comes from within the Gay community itself, where Andy Bell is regarded as a Gay icon to. Growing up with the belief that respect goes a long way, Bell learned that at an early age you should carry through in life what you want given back.
Despite a continued collaboration with Vince Clarke & Erasure, Bell has some of his own solo gigs as a much in demand DJ. If you don’t know Erasure's work, start with the compilation Total Pop! The First 40. Among the digitally remastered tracks: Oh, L’Amour, A Little Respect, Boy, Stand By Your Man, Chain Of Love, & Blue Savannah.
Erasure is known for elaborate stage shows & productions. Bell: “It is always fun creating the various productions. I play a creative role, but we have always had quite a production team. Our swan production was quite over the top.” I was zany for the wild, wild west routine with Bell singing Tammy Wynette’s Stand By Your Man with Erasure partner Vince Clarke (a straight boy) in full drag. Another favorite is his contribution to the original Red+Hot+Blue album- Cole Porter's Too Darn Hot.
In 1985, Clarke picked Andy Bell out of a large group to audition for a new group. Clarke had successfully created 2 other groups that I was mad for: Depeche Mode & Yazoo- featuring singer Alison Moyet. Bell: “I was #36 to audition. After many months in the studio, I also think they figured out I was gay with all the boys I had visiting me during that time.” After 30 years of hits, tours & travel with Clarke, the duo are still very close & continue to coordinate on new projects.
Bell is open about Sylvester & Freddy Mercury as his role models. Bell: “Freddy Mercury, if he were to still be alive today, would have been one of the top performers in the industry. He was so far ahead of his time. & when it comes to sexuality, these days that isn’t such an issue. We have evolved.” Bell claims he would love work with Annie Lennox, who remains one of his favorite singer.
Bell was part of The True Colors tour in 2007 & went to cities around the US and Canada. Presented by the Logo Channel, the tour featured Andy Bell with & without Erasure, Margaret Cho, Cyndi Lauper, Deborah Harry, Rosie O’Donnell & others. The benefit for the HRC, PFLAG & The Matthew Shepard Foundation was a stunning success.
Bell was one of the first pop stars to come out as being gay, & in 2004 he become one of the first pop stars to come out as HIV positive. Bell has known his status since June 1998, when he came down with a case of pneumonia, & was quite happy keeping the news to himself. But when speculation started last winter about his health during a recent double hip replacement, Bell thought he'd set the record straight & try to erase some of the stigma at the same time.
Bell lives the life in London with longtime partner- Paul Hickey. He turns 47 years old on this day- April 25th. Any musical message from Andy Bell will always bring a little RESPECT from Post Apocalyptic Bohemia.